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Bend Bulletin

Nov. 4

Oregon has been lucky this year. Wildfires have been held to a minimum all summer long. Now, as winds push what might have been relatively small fires into monsters in California, Central Oregonians should take stock and make sure we’re doing what we can to keep fires here from becoming conflagrations.

The Fire Adapted Communities website has some suggestions.

For the house itself, if you’re planning to build, a Class A metal roof, a simple roofline and no dormers are a plus. So, too, are construction materials such as stucco, though it’s not in common use in this area. Design changes to the eaves can help keep fire out of attics and labeled hoses available to firefighters can add another measure of protection.

Out the front door and right now, people can reduce the risk of fire in several ways.

If you have gutters, keep them free of leaves and other debris. If you have deciduous trees, rake and dispose of leaves. Make sure your bushes don’t snuggle up to your house, and create a non-combustible zone for three to five feet out from the house. Use crushed rock or cement for sidewalks, and skip the bark ground cover near your home.

Too, space the plants closest to the house, and choose ones that hug the ground rather than rise feet into the air. All plants will burn, but, according to the CalFire agency in California, choosing high-moisture plants with little sap or resin can help. Save the big shrubs and trees for places further away from the house.

Lavender, sage and creeping thyme will all grow around here, though rosemary generally requires warmer weather. Again, if you mulch, your home will be safer if you choose a nonorganic product.

Finally, remember that such things as controlled burns and thinning projects in the forest are done specifically to reduce the chance of huge fires, and they can work. The Milli Fire near Sisters in 2017 could have been a disaster, but years of forest restoration efforts prevented that.